Last month, I introduced legislation that would allow Baltimore County voters to adopt a three-term limit for members of the County Council. My Republican colleague Todd Huff is cosponsoring this legislation.
While I have had numerous conversations with my colleagues on the County Council, this legislation does not have the five votes needed for passage on Tuesday night. That’s unfortunate, because I believe Baltimore County voters would welcome the opportunity to consider this change.
Term limits would fundamentally change county government in three important ways.
First, term limits would guarantee an automatic turnover in county government. Since 1998, there have been 28 separate general election contests for the seven County Council district seats. Not a single incumbent has lost in a general election. Three incumbents lost in primary elections—Louis DePazzo in 1998, Wayne Skinner in 2002, and T. Bryan McIntire in 2010—and in Skinner's case, it was partly due to redistricting.
Second, by limiting the tenure of councilmembers, incumbents would be forced to focus their attention on the most pressing priorities in their district and on cost-effective projects that can improve the quality of life for their constituents.
Third, term limits would provide a burst of fresh ideas and leadership every few years. The current County Council, which includes five freshmen, has enacted numerous zoning and development reforms over the past fourteen months.
I ran for office on a pledge to support term limits. With the introduction of Bill 5-12, the County Council has considered term limits for the first time in its history. While the Council often agrees on issues across party lines, this is one of those subjects—like the expansion of the speed camera program—where there will be a division between the Democratic majority and the Republican minority.
Even if Bill 5-12 fails, I hope that we can revisit this issue at some point in the future.
Should members of the County Council be subject to term limits? Tell us in the comments.